PCW condemns commodification of women

The Philippine Commission on Women denounces all acts of commodification of women, in light of the issue surrounding a PhilHealth official.

According to a Senate report, the PhilHealth executive supposedly received a woman as a “gift” from his staff members for his surprise birthday party. A video clip of the incident which has been circulating online shows that the woman who was dressed in scanty clothes danced in front of the official, the PhilHealth employees laughed, shouted, and cheered.

The PCW does not condone this act of commodifying women or treating women as mere commodities who can be bought, disposed of, traded, and used for all intents and purposes. This kind of exploitation fuels the misogynist perspective and boosts the mindset that others have entitlement to women’s bodies. By giving the woman in the video as a “gift” for the official and making her dance in that attire, they have stripped her of her humanity and treated her as some sort of goods that one gives on occasions. To make it worse, by making her perform this sexy dance, they imposed on her the erroneous and misplaced idea that she is merely an object for pleasure, entertainment, and sexual desire.

As if that is not disappointing enough, the incident occurred inside a government office, presumably during office hours. It is unfortunate that after decades of promoting Gender and Development (GAD) in government agencies, an act as horrendous as this can still happen inside an office where all persons, whether their employees or not, must be treated with respect.

We also lament that that video shows both male and female employees cheering and laughing during the incident. This, unfortunately, proves that despite the efforts of agencies to instill gender sensitivity among their employees, objectifying and commodifying women remain deeply ingrained in people’s mindsets and continue to be normalized. As long as this manifests in such acts, we see the greater need for the advocacy to eradicate gender inequality which is the root of discrimination against women.  

The PCW calls on the GAD Focal Point System of PhilHealth to look into this incident and take appropriate actions to address the gender insensitivity of their staff members.

We remind not only government employees, but the public in general, that every woman is a human. She does not belong in a box as a gift and she is not a commodity for pleasure or entertainment.